Leeds United U23s missing 'extra gear' amid Elland Road injury knock-on effect

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Mark Jackson says Leeds United's Under-23s lacked an extra gear in Monday's defeat to West Ham.

The Whites lined-up with what was an extremely young development side at Rush Green against the Hammers in Premier League 2 action.

First team injuries are having a huge knock on effect for the academy this season, with the average age of the starting 11 just over 18 in the capital.

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The Hammers, meanwhile, boasted a 22-cap Republic of Ireland Under-21s international with League One experience alongside a number of players who have featured in the Europa League this season.

Leeds United Under-23s head coach Mark Jackson. Pic: GettyLeeds United Under-23s head coach Mark Jackson. Pic: Getty
Leeds United Under-23s head coach Mark Jackson. Pic: Getty

Despite the obvious age gap, Mark Jackson's side held their own throughout the opening 45 minutes before conceding three times after the break to seal a 3-0 loss.

"Unfortunately at the minute with the young players we have within the team we just haven't quite got that next gear to go to," Jackson reflected post-match.

"West Ham have a big, powerful team. They're on the front foot and aggressive. They just outpowered us in that second half. I was pleased that we were brave and tried to play our way. I asked the players to make decisions and take ownership on the pitch and I thought we did that.

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"Ultimately, we just didn't have that next gear to rise to and kick on to try and get the victory."

The Whites Under-23s side have now failed to win a game in the PL2 outing mid-September though have been missing a long list due to first team involvement.

United's latest defeat leaves them in 13th spot in the top division on goal difference, heading up the bottom two relegation places.

"We're obviously disappointed to lose the game," Jackson added.

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"We had full belief in ourselves that we could come here and get a victory. It's very contrasting to what it was after the Sunderland game. We didn't lose that game but it felt like it in that one.

"Obviously the boys are down and deflated but there are certain elements where we can be pleased and happy with how we performed in the game."